August’s recipes: Sophie’s choice

Round & About

Chef & TV star Sophie Grigson shares two recipes ahead of her food & photography courses starting next month…


(Prep: 130 mins – Prooving: 90 mins – Cooking: 25 mins – Serves: 6)


• 450g strong white bread flour
(I use a Canadian strong white)
• One sachet easy-blend /
fast-action yeast
(or 14g fresh yeast)
• One teaspoon salt
• Three or four tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, plus
extra for preparation
• Either 150g lardons or 70g black olives, pitted and sliced
• One or two teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano, or finely chopped fresh rosemary


Make a soft bread dough. In other words, mix flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Add enough tepid water to make a soft slightly sticky dough (around 300ml). Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, working in a little extra flour or water if required. The final dough should be as smooth as satin, and delightfully soft and fairly floppy. If it feels heavy or over-firm, knead in a little more water to relax it.

Roll into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and turn until evenly coated in oil. Cover with cling film, or a plastic bag, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Oil a baking sheet generously. Oil the palms of your hands, then turn the dough out on to an oiled worksurface. Knead briefly for a few minutes to smooth out.

Now spread out on the work surface and cover with lardons (no need to precook) or olives, and the herbs. Fold the sides and ends over the filling, then knead again until evenly incorporated. Transfer the dough to the baking tray and spread out to form a mega leaf shape. Using a sharp cutter, make a long cut from tip to stem without cutting right through to the edges. Next make three cuts on either side, like the veins of a leaf. Lift the sides and gently pull away from the centre to open up the cuts (remember the dough will expand when cooking). Spread a little more oil over the fougasse, then cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise for another half an hour or so. Remove the cling film.

Place a baking sheet in the oven, then preheat the oven to 200 C/Gas Mark 6. Place the fougasse tray directly on top of the hot tray in the oven, and then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Girasole with spinach, ricotta & pancetta

(Prep: 30 mins – Prooving: 90 mins – Cooking: 25 mins – Serves: Pleanty!)


• 500g puff pastry
• A little plain flour for rolling
• One egg yolk


• 250g fresh spinach
• One onion, chopped
• 75g pancetta lardons
• A splash of olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 90g freshly grated Parmesan
• 250g ricotta
• ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• Salt and pepper



Cook the spinach lightly, then leave to cool and drain in a colander set over a bowl. Fry the onion and pancetta in a little oil, over a moderate heat, until onion is very tender. Add the garlic and cook for a minute
or so longer. Let them cool.
Now back to the spinach. Squeeze it hard to get rid of all that water, then squeeze it a bit more. Chop finely. Mix all the filling ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Mix the egg yolk with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Preheat oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7. Now divide the pastry in two and roll each one out thinly to form a square. Using a large plate to guide you, cut out two circles. Lay one on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Take a cup, turn it upside down in the middle of the pastry. Press down gently so the edges print a neat circle in the middle of the pastry. Lift the cup off. Mound about a third of the filling in the middle of the inner circle. Use the rest to make a ring around the outer part of the pastry.

Brush the edges and the bare ring around the central mound with the egg wash. Carefully lift the second circle of pastry over on top of the first. Use your cup to gently press the pastry down around the mound. Leave it there. Seal the outer pastry layer.

Make 16 evenly spaced cuts from the rim of the cup out to the edge of the pastry. Twist each section through 90 degrees, always twisting in the same direction. Lift off the cup – it’s done its job now. Brush the pastry with the egg wash, then slide into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190C/170 Fan/ Gas 5. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Eat warm.